Over the recent past, the use of social media has grown to unprecedented levels owing to the suitability of the platforms in sharing of information. In fact, about 70% of adults use social media sites such as Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram when they are online. While on these platforms, users may develop short bios about themselves and share the same with friends and strangers alike. Moreover, the users may do research using the same platforms and even look for job opportunities while online. Indeed, it turns out that social media is a blessing that couldn’t have come at a better time and is quite consistent with information age that the world is currently in. The initial target market for these platforms was teenagers and young adults to interact with their peers either in school or miles away. However, over time, the user base has expanded to include people of ages above fifty years and the uses of social media have changed immensely. Nonetheless, this essay focuses on the impacts that social media has on younger adults and teenagers and especially on their education.
While the use of the platforms has increased over time, there is debate as to the net impact of the same particularly with regard to teenagers in school. While it is true that social media enhances the interaction among peers and even strangers, the same platforms prevent face-to-face meetings between friends. The use of social media platforms in classrooms is quite controversial and has been blamed for a number of negative issues on the students. Proponents of social media argue that the platform provides an important space for today’s digital learners. However, opponents single out the fact that the platform is unregulated and should therefore be removed from classrooms. It has been said that social media enriches the learning process but all these it does while inflicting serious ramifications on the users. Indeed the use of social media is disadvantageous to the young people with respect to their education.
One of the main disadvantages of social media involvement among teenagers and the public in general is that it discourages the use of face to face communication (Noor & Hendricks, 2012). It is true that the use of social media in learning creates real time digital streaming of content. This may be commended for creating a safe harbor for students who are otherwise not able to express their ideas in a classroom setting. However, while this may be seen as an advantage, it is in truth a disadvantage. The confinement of the contribution to social media platforms leads to the missing of important life lessons and social skills. Students who engage in too much social media are prone to be at a disadvantage in times of college admissions. Further, the same predicament faces the student in their search for jobs as they end up not being able to express their ideas in interviews.
The disadvantage of a lack of face to face communication in social media addicts is further compounded in their social life. For instance, the people tend to have problems when at social gatherings and even in their relationships with both friends and family. In fact, it is more likely that social media addicts will tend to be more ineffective in expressing themselves during their interaction with the environment. It has also been observed that people who are mostly active in the social media platform find difficulties connecting with their peers in real life situations. The biggest impact of social media addiction is however the education of the students. The development of face to face phobia among the students means that they cannot be actively involved in group works and discussions thereby leaving them behind their peers. In fact, it is quite hard to find social media fanatics making presentations in class. Most of the students prefer to sit back and listen as their peers do the representation on their behalf (Noor & Hendricks, 2012). The ultimate result of this trait is that it affects the students’ performance in class.
In addition to the inhibition of face to face communication in students, social media is also attributed to the incidence of distraction among the students. Worse still is the role that social media plays in the deteriorating performance of the students involved. Studies done in the past have shown a positive relationship between the use of social media in classrooms and the lack of concentration among the students’. However, it is not only social media that cause distractions among the students but the internet platform in general. The problem is further compounded when the students access social media sites while in classes as they are prone to distractions including pornographic materials.
Over and over, educators and peers counselors have lamented of the ability of spocial media to distract student users in class. Social media sites such as Twitter, Youtube and even Facebook are at an increased probability of distracting students with irrelevant content while they are studying. While these sites are also important for information sharing and networking, their distractive nature is a source of concern among teachers who complain of the numerous instances in which students are inattentive in class. In an environment where internet access has been enhanced in school settings, most students are more likely to gain access to these sites while in the classes. Eventually, the end result is that these sites sway the students’ attention from the happenings in class and into a world of surrealism. In addition, most students embark on chatting with their friends in classes or in other locations while the teachers are teaching.
Most likely, students are prone to exchange funny memes or notes when teachers are teaching important aspects in class. It is no doubt that students and especially those in their teenage years, are likely to be cheeky and funny in their interactions in class. More often than not, the students are involved in fun making activities with their teachers as the subjects. In fact, it is normal to find students laughing at their educators while they are teaching in class, with their backs facing the class. The end result is that the students end up not understanding what the teachers have taught thus rendering the entire lesson useless. This scenario is reflected in the students’ performance dusting exams where they perform below average even when the teachers have put in so much effort. Instructors in class should be privy of this fact and work towards negating abuse of social media space.
There is also a relationship between social media use and the incidence of cyber bullying among the users. Recently, cyber bullying has been identified as one of the most common form of abuse among students. For this reason, the field of cyber bullying has gained an increased interest among researchers in a bid to identify the causative agents and the impacts of the same. Surprisingly, social media abuse has been termed as one of the main players in the advancement of cyber bullying in schools all around the world. In addition, students using social media may either be the perpetrators of cyber bullying towards their peers or they may be the ones being abused. It is to be noted, however that “social media is not the only source of cyber bullying” (Arslan et al., 2012) but one among a web of many other platforms in which cyber bullying may be advanced.
The importance of social media in helping students connect with their teachers cannot be underestimated. However, its use is also a conduit for malicious behavior and may bring about the proliferation of in school abuse. Different studies done in US colleges have found that more than 20% of college students have had instances of harassment while browsing online. With the most active online websites being related to social media, it is in order to assume that part of the abuse is because of social media. The increasing use of social media in teaching activities is a loophole for the increase in social media bullying with the most vulnerable students being those that have had instances of abuse in their background. In the wake of this unfolding, instructors should appreciate the fact that the use of these media in teaching presents inherent danger to the lives of the students. The teachers and the school administration at large should focus on limiting the use of social media to only when it’s most appropriate. Moreover, activities of students should be monitored within the classroom setting to avoid cases of “cyber bullying proliferation” (Arslan et al, 2012). In so doing, teachers can help in averting future problems including engagement of students in criminal activities after they have graduated from school.
Another disadvantage of using social media is that the information shared in the platform is not accurate. This fact is manifested sue to the absence of an authority that legitimizes the information shared in the platforms. The use of social media is termed as self regulating in the sense that the government cannot regulate the activities that take place within the sites. This means that most of the information shred may be misleading and even inappropriate. The scenario is not limited to classroom settings but is also evident in government institutions and in companies. Some social media users have also complained or reported of cases of people being conned through the sharing of false information.
The dependence on social media has not made matters any better as most of the people rely on information from social media to make important decisions in their lives. Students are more vulnerable to the inappropriate use of social media as they constantly use research material that may be outdated and inappropriate. The use of social media has further rendered most students lazy in doing their assignments. Most students do not look for books to read their research but depend on social media networks to get the information. It is no surprise, therefore that most students copy paste entire assignments from the social media and submit the same to their teachers for marking and grading. Often times, students copy from the same sources word for word therefore leading to lower grading and marks allocation in class.
The disadvantage of using false information in class settings is detrimental to the academic performance of students as they end up getting information that is not relevant. The “bulk of information shared in the social media platforms is misinformed and misleading to the users” (Chan, 2014). Most of the times, students tend to replicate the same information that is irrelevant and therefore leading to poor grades. In addition, the use of social in getting information for use in class is detrimental in the fact that it may give the students misleading information. Students end up replicating the same information in their exams thus leading to poor grades.
Most students may become cheeky in the use of social media by deleting chat groups or even introducing irrelevant topics during such talks. There have been several instances in which students have failed to access reading materials because other students have either erased reading materials or altered the same. This scenario leads to some students not accessing important reading notes that may have been shared by their instructors. The fact is replicated in the exams where some students end up clueless when the questions they did not access are tested in the examinations. The use of social media in information sharing should e restricted and the administrators of chat groups restricted to well-behaved students. Lecturers should monitor the kind of information that students share with fellow students in the social media space to limit the instances of misinformation.
Social media usage among students is not all booms as proponents of the same may argue. Most students who are heavy users of social media have been found to perform poorly in class. This is reflected in the level of grades that the students acquire in classes with most of them having “performances that are way below average” (Olweus, 2012). A worrying trend is not even the poor performance but the negative and ignorant attitude that these students portray. It has been observed that students who take most of their class time surfing online have a higher likelihood of failing in their exams. Although failure in exams is not a measure of one’s intelligent, it is widely accepted as a pointer to the concentration and understanding of various topics taught to students in class. The performance of students in classes is further affected by social media due to the fact that their social life is affected. This is normally shown through problems in offline relationships and the incidence of stress among heavy users of social media.
The use of social media is not however all gloom for the student users and has its advantages as well. Social media is important since it improves communication skills among students as well as student engagement. Some students “find it more comfortable to express themselves through social media like you tube, twitter or even Facebook” (Chan, 2014) rather than in class by raising their hands. This gives teachers the ability to promote the growth of discussions and also bring out ideas of students who are afraid or rather too shy to express themselves in class. In addition to this, students through social media, get closer to their teachers in that they are able to ask questions and assignments through twitter or Facebook pages and are answered by their teachers.
Through social media, students also share details of upcoming events and exchange information on useful sites. Educators can increase student participation by encouraging them to post about topics taught in class. Moreover, the sharing of such tweets and posts can increase the understanding of the students on topics discussed in class. The use of social media has been touted as an important ingredient in the advancement of knowledge to students. In an era where technology is used in almost every aspect, education cannot be left behind. The future of education and learning in schools lies in the proper use of technology and especially the use of social media in information sharing.
In addition, social media is also important in that it prepares students for successful employment in future. The students can use social media to network with future employers as well as look for interesting opportunities all over the world. The social media platform can be viewed as a global market where people are free to shop for everything they need. Students can thus use the platform to make important contacts with potential employers. Some sites such as Linkedin have important portals where students can upload their curricula vitaes therefore exposing them to potential employers.
The preparation of students for future employment is not restricted to the networking that the platform avails. Rather, social media improves the skills of the students and makes them all round in terms of their interactions they make with the world. Through social media, students are able to relate better with other people and to improve their communication skills. While it has been said that social media discourages face to face communication, it supplements this by improving the communication skills of the students.
There is clearly no outright answer as to whether social media use is advantageous or disadvantageous to the users. This paper points to the idea that social media has more negative impacts on the students that it has positive impacts. However, the impact of its use in class settings is dependent on the content shared and the maturity of the students involved. In addition, it cannot be assumed that social media use alone leads to the incidence of these negative impacts. Rather, there are many other factors that contribute to the incidence of such negative impacts and social media is not the only one.
Noor, A.-D. H. S., & Hendricks, J. A. (2012). Social media: Usage and impact. Lanham, Md: Lexington Books.
Arslan, S., Savaser, S., Hallett, V., & Balci, S. (2012). Cyberbullying among primary school students in Turkey: Self-reported prevalence and associations with home and school life. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 15(10), 527-533.
Chan, T. H. (2014). Facebook and its Effects on Users’ Empathic Social Skills and Life Satisfaction: A Double-Edged Sword Effect. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17(5), 276-280. doi:10.1089/cyber.2013.0466
Olweus, D. (2012). Comments on cyberbullying article: A rejoinder. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 9(5), 559-568.
Lester, L., Cross, D., & Shaw, T. (2012). Problem behaviours, traditional bullying and cyberbullying among adolescents: longitudinal analyses. Emotional and behavioural difficulties, 17(3-4), 435-447.
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